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Indian filmmaker wraps movie in 2 hrs 14 min

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian film maker has attempted a world record by finishing a 74-minute feature, loosely based on Terri Schiavo's protracted right-to-die battle that gripped the United States in 2005, in 2 hours and 14 minutes. 

Engineer-turned-director Jayaraj's "Atbhutam" (Wonder) tries to capture the drama of mercy-killing in the last hour-and-a-half in the life of a US-based Indian-born playwright suffering from pancreatic cancer.

"I felt the power. When we started at 11.46 a.m., the whole crew was in a trance ... a kind of invisible energy, and we were just flying one from one sequence to the other," 45-year-old Jayaraj told Reuters by phone from the city of Hyderabad.

"And just before the last shot, when my associate said 'one shot left', that's when I realized my dream is finally going to come true."

The record-breaking attempt has been forwarded to the Guinness Book of World Records with authentication letters from Ramanaidu, himself listed as the most prolific producer with 110 films, and an official from the Andhra Pradesh state government, who were present for filming.

Jayaraj opted for an Oregon hospital as his setting since the state's 1997 "Death with Dignity Act" made physician-assisted suicide legal.

Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman brain-damaged for 15 years, and her husband fought a protracted legal battle that gripped the United States before her feeding tube was removed in March, 2005.

Jayaraj approached studios in the United States and Britain five years ago with a story on mercy killing inspired by a euthanasia plea on behalf of an Indian chess player and muscular dystrophy patient by his mother who wanted to donate his organs.

"I originally wanted to make the movie in less than 10 hours. They all discouraged me since the producers couldn't imagine a movie getting completed in such a short time," said Jayaraj, who produced the movie, filmed in December, himself.
Indian film maker Jayaraj (L) at a studio in the southern city of Hyderabad, December 19, 2005. Jayaraj has attempted a world record by finishing a 74-minute feature, loosely based on Terri Schiavo's protracted right-to-die battle that gripped the United States in 2005, in 2 hours and 14 minutes. REUTERS/Handout

"Atbhutam" is scheduled for an end-March release.

The Schiavo saga reaffirmed the multiple award winning director's belief his was an idea whose time has come.

"The Schivao story where we had a husband supporting euthanasia and the patient's parents opposing it, inspired me to do the story again," he said.

"Atbhutam" portrays the dilemma of the playwright's attorney wife, who supports his wish to die, and his old parents who were unaware of such a thing until they meet him in the hospital.

Jayaraj, a veteran of 26 films including "Atbhutam," has won critical acclaim for his brand of experimental cinema.

He avoided multi-camera shoots for his world record attempt and instead used three separate cameras which he moved from one setting to the other.

"We'd planned things, including the lighting, in such minute details, that within a couple of minutes of canning one shot, the lighting for the next scene was switched on and the floor was made ready," said S. Kumar, the film's director of photography. 

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July 2010

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